Interview with Herbert Bartsch, Branch Director, Wisag Produktionsservice
CT: What current trends do you see in maintenance services for clients in the chemical industry?
Bartsch: The chemical industry has long been working together with partner companies in the maintenance sector. Such partnerships often have their origin in a previous phase of collaboration between the companies concerned during the construction of new plants. At present, these frequently long-term partnerships are increasingly being reviewed and new tenders invited for the work performed. However, the chemical industry regularly concludes framework agreements with a number of comparable service providers and then puts even recurring orders individually out to tender.
CT: What has changed in the maintenance business with the chemical industry as a result of the economic crisis of 2009/2010 and in its aftermath?
Bartsch: Even before the economic crisis of 2009/2010 outsourcing was rife in the chemical industry; today the chemical industry uses the experience gained by putting work out for tender at shorter intervals and in smaller packages. Moreover, administrative tasks involved in order processing are being increasingly passed on to outsourcing partners. Service providers are being increasingly integrated into the IT systems of the purchaser or are compelled to make their IT applications compatible with the systems used in the chemical industry.
CT: What new contract and cooperation models can you see?
Bartsch: No changes are in sight with regard to new contract models; the present form of contract as a framework agreement without binding call-off contract looks set to continue. However, the trend seems to be to be towards the awarding of increasingly award large contract volumes to main contractors. The main contractor then has to take on the workflow processes of smaller subcontractors from planning to invoicing, thus reducing the coordinative and administrative burden on the company ordering the work.
CT: More and more chemical plants operators are presently seeking to flexibilise their maintenance between the poles of „maximum availability“ and „cost optimisation at below-capacity operation“ – how can you support them?
Bartsch: Flexibility is the watchword of a good service provider; it ranks alongside the classical attributes of quality, qualification, and dependability as one of the principal challenges facing maintenance contractors in the chemical industry. Worthy of special mention, however, is the area of occupational safety and environmental protection; here the service provider must adhere to the same high standards as have been adopted by the chemical industry itself.
CT: To what extent have strategic partnerships already become reality for you?
Bartsch: Wisag Produktionsservice has already entered into several strategic partnerships with clients in the chemical industry. A service provider will generally operate its own base at large chemical sites, from which it can reach individual facilities without delay. Clients are also offered on-call services assuring round-the-clock support.[AS]